Round 13 Feature Match - Martin van der Vaart vs. Bernhard Wurmitzer

Posted in Event Coverage on January 19, 2014

By Tobi Henke

With just two more rounds to go, both players entered the fray with records of 11-1, still in good shape for a potential Top 8 berth. The winner of this match would maybe even be able to secure a spot early, while the loser wouldn't be eliminated from Top 8 contention either.

Austrian Bernhard Wurmitzer got this far with a stock version of the green-red Urzatron deck, while the Netherlands' Martin van der Vaart was playing a rather unusual deck, blue and red, built around Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer. In this match-up, he would be the aggressor trying to out-tempo Wurmitzer before Urza's Tower and Co. pump out big threats like Wurmcoil Engine and Karn Liberated.

Game 1

The first game was marred by van der Vaart severe mana screw. While Wurmitzer wasn't particularly lucky either—his first five lands being Urza's Mine, Grove of the Burnwillows, Urza's Tower, Ghost Quarter, and Eye of Ugin—van der Vaart never even found a second land after fetching Steam Vents. He got Wurmitzer down to about 10 with Grim Lavamancer and Lightning Bolts, but then lost his Lavamancer as well as a freshly-summoned Delver of Secrets to Pyroclasm.

Martin van der Vaart 

"Kind of a lame game," Wurmitzer commented, and van der Vaart agreed, "I've seen better." Wurmitzer's draw step changed things, however. "That definitely is better," said Wurmitzer as he dropped the missing Urza's Power Plant, followed by Urza's planeswalker Karn Liberated. Van der Vaart was reduced to zero lands and conceded.

Game 2

Here, van der Vaart opened better, on Delver of Secrets and Serum Visions. Insectile Aberration and Lightning Bolt quickly started the process of reducing Wurmitzer's life, who himself was once again struggling with his lands. After cycling various Chromatic Stars, Spheres, and Relics, Sylvan Scrying met van der Vaart's Mana Leak.

Another Lightning Bolt and another attack already brought Wurmitzer to 4 when his Pyroclasm was met by Negate. One more attack, and Snapcaster Mage evened the score at one apiece.

"Now, let's have one good game for a change," Wurmitzer suggested while shuffling. Van der Vaart reminded him, "Your draw in the second was way better than mine in the first, though."

Bernhard Wurmitzer 

Game 3

The early turns were all about van der Vaart's impressive array of counterspells: Spell Snare stopped Sylvan Scrying, Spell Pierce stopped Ancient Stirrings, Negate stopped another Ancient Stirrings, and another Negate stopped Pyroclasm. Meanwhile, nothing stopped van der Vaart's turn-two Delver of Secrets and it surely looked as if Insectile Aberration would go all the way.

Then came the all-deciding turn: With Wurmitzer at 8, van der Vaart tapped out for Snapcaster Mage to flashback Negate, countering a second Pyroclasm. However, after that, Wurmitzer had another land drop—the missing Tron piece which allowed him to cast Karn Liberated.

Karn took out Insectile Aberration and died to Lightning Bolt, but now Wurmitzer's mana engine was active. Soon his Wurmcoil Engine was active as well, and while van der Vaart put up much more of a fight than anyone would have expected at this point, he didn't have a real answer to the lifelink monster. Two Young Pyromancers and another Lightning Bolt could only make the game a close one, not close the game itself. Instead, a second and later a third Karn Liberated decided the game in Wurmitzer's favor.

"Good game," Wurmitzer concluded, after accepting the handshake, as he slumped back in his chair exhausted. Van der Vaart agreed. "A close one."

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